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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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SinkHoleOnYourSide

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BATON ROUGE - A woman says her yard has been sinking ever since she bought her house 27 years ago. The problem wasn't fully exposed until the homeowner called WBRZ for help.

"I really don't know what's under there," said Earnestine Griffin.

The homeowner, who lives on Bartlett Street in Baton Rouge, says she made hundreds of calls to the city-parish over the years asking for help.

"I've been calling for 27 years asking them to please send someone out here and tell me what this hole is," said Griffin.

Her beloved fruit trees are dropping fruit before it's ripe because the ground is so saturated.

Griffin says there are two large holes in the back of her yard and she's worried children sneaking on her property picking fruit will get hurt.

The Department of Public Works has visited her home on and off for years. This past January, DPW put orange fencing around an area of her yard that's sinking and it's been there ever since. A pole stuck in the ground shows the hole sinks at least two feet below the surface. Griffin says it's much deeper than that.

Two On Your Side called DPW and got answers. It says Griffin's yard is sinking because of an abandoned septic tank and it's not the city's problem to fix. Griffin tells News Two she was never told about the septic tank when she moved in.

The Real Estate Commission says sellers only have to disclose how waste is handled or disposed of on a property.  If there is a septic system no longer in use on the property that does not have to be disclosed to a buyer.

In a statement, the city-parish tells WBRZ, "We would like to find a way to help Ms. Griffin and others in her situation. We are always looking into federal and state funding sources to help the community as part of our public outreach program. If we do find funding we will advertise it through the Council members and their respective town hall meetings."

Griffin says the hole in her yard is only getting bigger, attracting bugs and more water.

DPW says it gets about a handful of calls about abandoned septic tanks every year. They can become a big issue, and can cause a yard to cave-in if they aren't properly taken care of. A septic sanitation company says old septic tanks should be filled with sand when they're done being used.

The United States Department of Agriculture offers a single family housing repair grant. In order to qualify, a person must be the owner and occupy the house. The person must also have a family income below 50 percent of the area median income and be 62 or older.

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